The workshop was attended by 20 Experts from 7 countries

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The workshop was attended by 20 Experts from 7 countries

    Athens COST-724 Workshop

    2-4 April 2007

    „Real time database for Neutron Monitors‟

    Scientific Report / Results


     Daniel Heynderickx and Christina Plainaki

    The workshop which was held in Athens at the meeting hall ‟Kostis Palamas‟ of the University of Athens from 2 to 4 of April 2007 organised by Prof. H. Mavromichalaki

    of the University of Athens, was attended by twenty (20) Experts from nine (9)


    ? Belgium: Daniel Heynderickx, Koen Stegen

    ? Greece: Helen Mavromichalaki, Xenophon Moussas, Panagiota Preka-

    Papadima, Christos Sarlanis, Christina Plainaki, George Souvatzoglou,

    Athanasios Papaioannou, George Mariatos, Maria Gerontidou

    ? Italy: Mario Parisi

    ? Germany: Christian Steigies

    ? Slovakia: Karel Kudela

    ? Russia: Anatoly Belov, Eugenia Eroshenko, Victor Yanke

    ? Israel: Lev Dorman

    ? Switzerland: Rolf Butikofer

    ? Armenia: Valery Babayan

Monday 2 April

The morning session opened with extensive presentations on neutron monitor station

    infrastructure and functioning. An overview was presented of already operational real-

    time databases around Europe.

The afternoon session was devoted to a visit of the Athens neutron monitor station.

    The operators demonstrated the functioning of the instrument and the data collection

    system. Some of the forecasting applications were also demonstrated and explained in


A general discussion session was held on the current situation of neutron monitor

    stations and databases:

    ? M. Parisi pointed out that agreements should be established between station

    PI‟s and the data base host in order to apply for support for the maintenance

    and running of the stations.

    ? The experience of the Athens cosmic ray team with space weather prediction

    was pointed out by X. Moussas.

    ? K. Kudela stressed that ongoing efforts (Athens, IZMIRAN, RECORD, …),

    should be harmonized.

    ? D. Heynderickx suggested that a market analysis should be made to identify

    potential users.

    ? E. Eroshenko underlined that the aim of FP7 is to provide free access to data

    and services for researchers. This does not exclude other types of access for

    other classes of users.

    ? Real-time data is preliminary; this should be clearly stated on the data base

    access. Preliminary data should be replaced when corrected data becomes


    ? Reliable space weather prediction services need more than neutron monitor


    ? E. Eroshenko pointed out that the Dourbes station (Belgium) has stopped

    providing data. D. Heynderickx will check on the situation.

Tuesday 3 April

    In their presentation on cosmic ray variations, the IZMIRAN group suggested to

    establish a virtual observatory instead of a “classical” centralized data base. One of

    their arguments was the volume of data to be stored. It was pointed out that the total

    volume of data for all neutron monitor stations since the start of observations is only

    of the order of several 10Gb, which easily fits on a modern laptop.

With the approach of downloading files and storing them locally, a non-negligible

    part of the code for applications is devoted to constructing file and directory names,

    opening files and reading in specific formats. This effort can be avoided when an SQL

    database with standard access queries is used.

K. Kudela pointed out that the study of cosmic ray variations needs muon telescope

    data in addition to neutron monitor data. He added that a space weather forecast

    project is established in Yakutsk.

G. Souvatzoglou stressed the importance of stable data formats for data providers in

    order to avoid problems with download functions.

M. Parisi asked whether there would be one central data base or a distributed system.

    Data bases can be both local and distributed.

The data policy for each station should be reflected in the data base, and the origin of

    the data should be clearly visible.

The issue of station synchronization was discussed. A possible solution is to use the

    ntp protocol, for which there is freely available software. It was pointed out that not

    all stations have access to internet, so this approach is not valid for all stations. Some

    stations use radio clocks, which should be a stable solution as well.

C. Steigies and D. Heynderickx demonstrated prototypes of databases and various

    ways to access them in different application types.

It was agreed to implement an SQL database at BIRA. Those stations that are able

    will push their data in the highest possible time resolution to the database. For the

other stations, a pull method will be implemented. K. Stegen will visit a number of

    stations (Lomnicky Stit, Rome, Athens, …) to implement the necessary software for pushing data. The database should be able to automatically push data to other centres

    or users (e.g. ANMODAP).

The exact content of the database is still under discussion. As a starting point, the

    IZMIRAN archive of 1-hr neutron monitor measurements will be downloaded and

    ingested for all stations that are in the archive and which give permission. The data

    columns will be a time stamp, pressure, uncorrected and pressure corrected counts.

The issue of storing different versions of the data was discussed. One option is to

    replace e.g. real-time data with corrected data when they become available. R.

    Bütikofer stressed that it is important to store both the raw data and final data.

Wednesday 4 April

    Discussion on funding in FP7

    C. Steigies gave a review on the procedure to submit proposals for FP7 e-

    infrastructures. The first deadline for submittal is 2 May. It is decided to submit two

    proposals: one for e-infrastructure for the 2 May deadline, and one for research

    infrastructures for the autumn deadline.

A list of work packages was established, with a preliminary list of participants and

    work package leaders. The overall manager still has to be selected.

    WP Leader Member 1. Architectural Brussels Kiel Athens


    2. guidelines for Oulu IZMIRAN Kiel

    data acquisition

    3. IZMIRAN Athens Bern Israel Slovakia Rome


    4. user tools Brussels Athens France Armenia

    (access to db and



    5. management? Brussels France IZMIRAN

The interested parties not present during the discussion (e.g. K. Kudela, I. Usoskin)

    will receive an e-mail with the above table and a request to urgently indicate in which

    WPs they wish to participate. All information necessary for writing the proposal will

    be put on the workshop website at Athens.


This workshop was a historical occasion in the sense that for the first time neutron

    monitor station representatives and scientists were gathered for a dedicated meeting

    on standardisation and collaboration to establish a common platform for data

    exchange and for future developments.

The main outcomes of the workshop are:

    ? A concrete plan for submitting FP7 proposals

    ? A set of action items on the data providers to send extensive descriptions of

    their instrumentation, data content and processing to BIRA for publishing

    alongside the database.

    ? A list of metadata will be compiled.

    ? An SQL database will be established at BIRA, with access to all data provided

    by the consortium. BIRA will assist with the procedures to populate and

    access the database, regardless of the outcome of the FP7 proposals.

     Athens, 4 April 2007 H. Mavromichalaki

     Local Organizer

     University of Athens

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